Saturday, January 27, 2007

What Dreams May Come

In one of his Dharma lectures to us on the teaching of the Consciousness Only (Weishi) School last October, Venerable Master Hui Zheng introduced to us the movie What Dreams May Come that describes the afterlife.

We bought the DVD from WalMart soon after the lecture and somehow could not get around to watching it until today, it being Jan 14 [the date when the base draft of this blog was first written but only published today with some updates and editing. Procrastination is a great stealer of time. I have to be more vigilant]. What a powerful movie. I may just decide to read the book.

Even though the movie centers around the profound love between two soul mates, who are also husband and wife, spanning from earth to heaven, to hell and back to heaven, some of the concepts explored resonate with the Buddha teachings as well. Examples are heaven and hell, rebirth/reincarnation, and suicide as a cardinal sin.

The movie was adapted from a book with the same name, What Dreams May Come, a 1978 novel by Richard Matheson. The title comes from a famous line in Hamlet's soliloquy in Act 3, scene 1 (To be, or not to be..."), namely, "For in that sleep of death what dreams may come / When we have shuffled off this mortal coil”, according to wikipedia, and the movie tagline reads: After life there is more. The end is just the beginning.

Some of the accolades on the DVD covers:

A visual masterpiece;

Stunning and totally original; and

Awe-inspiring. A visual blast.

The dreamscape was indeed a striking magnificence of vivid color, the denizens locomoting in mid-air gracefully or threading on water effortlessly. The depiction of hell, on the other hand, is expected: somber, gruesome, and downright unpalatable. For these visual impacts, the movie won the 1998 Academy Award for best visual effects, the only award garnered.

Insightful lines sprinkle throughout the movie. Some that I managed to pick up (with some prodding from wikipedia) are excerpted below:

What some folks call impossible, is just stuff they haven't seen before. [or tried. In fact, if you break down the word, it reads “I’m Possible”. I’ve read this somewhere but the source escapes me now (Wayne Dyer, perhaps?).]

Sometimes, when you win, you lose. (in the early part of the movie). [Especially in relation to time frame, i.e., winning in the short-term but losing in the long haul. Or in stratagem, winning the battle but losing the war.]

Thought is real. Physical is the illusion. [The environment affects you the way your inner self perceives it to be. What others do will only get to you if and when you let them. You may not be able to control what they do, but you certainly have the control over how you choose to respond. And that’s a choice.]

Sometimes, when you lose, you win. (toward the end of the movie) [by stepping back, by not craving for the credit.]

Those are some thoughts for the day. Be good, do good, and be at peace.

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